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Programming Software

Can ISO 29119 Software Testing "Standard" Really Be a Standard? 152

Posted by timothy
from the so-many-questions dept.
New submitter yorgo writes The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) will soon publish part 4 of a 5 part series of software testing standards. According to the website, "ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119 Software Testing is an internationally agreed set of standards for software testing that can be used within any software development life cycle or organisation." However, many in the testing community are against it. Some wonder how the ISO/IEC/IEEE achieved consensus without their input. James Bach speculates that exclusion helped build consensus. Others, such as Iain McCowatt, argue that something as variable as software testing cannot be standardized, at all. And others believe that the motive behind the standards is not increased quality, but economic benefit, instead. Michael Bolton explains "rent-seeking" as he builds on James Christie's CAST 2014 presentation, "Standards – promoting quality or restricting competition?"

A comprehensive list of many other arguments, viewpoints, and information has been collected by Huib Schoots. Opponents of ISO 29119 have even started a petition aimed at suspending publication of the standard. Even so, this might be an losing battle. Gil Zilberfeld thinks that companies will take the path of least resistance and accept ISO 29119.

So, where do you stand? What constitutes a consensus? Can a standard be honored without consensus? Can an inherently sapient activity, such as testing, be standardized, at all? What is the real purpose of a standard? Will companies acquiesce and adopt the standard without question?
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Can ISO 29119 Software Testing "Standard" Really Be a Standard?

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  • Re:Can see it now: (Score:5, Informative)

    by UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @11:53AM (#47817269)

    MBA CEO: Never mind, just ship it.

    More likely response: "Figure out how to get it done within the existing budget and schedule."

  • by sirwired (27582) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @12:24PM (#47817551)

    It seems as if their chief complaint is that they were not asked to provide input, and the personal communications with members of the committee didn't go anywhere. That's not how the standards process works (I'm speaking from the IEEE perspective, anyway; don't know how ISO works)... your organization (at least from the IEEE end, this is open to pretty much anybody that can muster up the nominal dues) signs up to be on the standards committee, you pay a nominal fee to be included in the working group, and Pow! Your organization is now a full voting member for the standard.

    If you don't sign up for the working group, then it should be no surprise that your input is considered entirely optional and/or ignored entirely.

    In the first article, the author describes a management course where a group was supposed to form a consensus. He complains that he disagreed with everyone else, wouldn't change his mind (because of his self-proclaimed "high-standards"), and was therefore excluded from the final output from the group, which then was reported to be a consensus. He disagreed that there was a consensus at all, since he didn't agree with it. That's not how "consensus" works; it does not mean that everybody will be satisfied with the outcome, or even want to be associated with it. He goes on to complain that the ISO process requires "consensus", but since he, and like-minded individuals, disagree with the standard, it should not be cleared as a standard.

    Again, not how consensus works. In a consensus process, the majority approve of whatever the final output is, and the objections of the dissenters are noted and made available as part of the standards record. You can look on the website of pretty much any standards organization and access drafts, comments, meeting minutes, presentations, the whole works. This full record can help potential adopters of the standard decide if they want to utilize it or not.

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